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Adult and continuing education in the United States can trace its roots to the lyceum movement of the early 19th century, when hundreds of informal associations were established to offer lectures, class instruction, debates, and dramatic performances. Included in this era were "mechanics institutes," which offered what today would be called vocational education. Although the lyceum movement itself gradually died out, the concept of improving the social, intellectual, and moral fabric of society through lifelong learning persisted. In 1926, the American Library Association issued a formal report, "Libraries and Adult Education," and established an Adult Education Board, and since then, the field of adult education has become a vibrant one, giving rise to academic specialties, tutoring centers, adult education organizations, continuing education support structures, and much more. Today, adult education takes place via university extension services, continuing education departments, courses offered through libraries and the internet, and in the workplace. Its influence is felt as broadly as the United Nations' International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA) and as narrowly as volunteer literacy tutoring in your local library. The SCRC holdings reflect the international and wide-ranging nature of the field.

Read more about the Charters Library, and about the Alexander N. Charters Adult Education Grants-in-Aid Program.

Digitized Materials

For information on digitized materials, please see Services.

Audio and Visual Materials

Many of the adult education collections include audio and video material. In particular, see:

Rare Books and Printed Materials

The library has complete or nearly complete runs of more than 50 adult education journals, including Adult Education Quarterly, Adult Education Journal, Convergence/Convergencia, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Journal of Cooperative Extension, New Directions for Continuing Education, Novičke, Scottish Adult Education, and Studies in Adult Education. In addition, we have more than 1,500 books and monographs on adult education and related subjects, both current and historical, some dating back as far as 1816.

Useful search terms to locate these items in the catalog include "adult education," "continuing education," "educators of adults," "non-formal education," "adult basic education," and "university extension."

When searching the catalog, set a search limit to "Special Collections" to find materials located in the SCRC.

Search the Classic Catalog.

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